On March 24, 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated as he performed mass. His martyrdom broadcast his message of solidarity with the poor around the globe. I recently learned a bit more about this incredible man at a Catholic young adult’s speaker series.
During the talk, as the heating pipes groaned against a polar wind, vicar Rev. Patrick Riffle explained the division of the Church in El Salvador during its civil war. Some priests linked themselves to the ruthless families that ruled El Salvador. Some picked up AK-47s to protect the poor against both the Marxists and the government.
It affected the image of the regional Church for decades. Yet Romero was able to find the truly Catholic message amidst the firearm cacophony: stop the violence and treat your fellow citizens as brothers and sisters. No handgun required.
The global Church finds itself in a similar divisive crisis after Vatican II, especially in America. The “Orthodox” or “conservative” Catholics judge the “Catholic liberals.” Yet “Catholic” is supposed to mean “universal.”